In Missouri, you can lose your job because you're gay and your employer finds that just a little too icky. Or you can be evicted from your apartment because you're gay.
Fortunately, Rep. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) and Sen. Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City) are once again trying to right this wrong in Missouri law. Their bills (HB477 and SB239, respectively) would prohibit discrimination based upon a person's sexual orientation.
This isn't the first time they've tried to set things right, leaving one to wonder why conservative leaders in both chambers are so intent on protecting Missourians' right to discriminate against people because of who they are or who they love. The good news is that last year's bill went farther than previous efforts, and HB477 is co-sponsored by 48 fellow Representatives.
A statement from Webber released last week about his bill is pasted below the jump.
Webber Files Legislation to Protect Missourians from Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
COLUMBIA, Mo. – State Representative Stephen Webber today announced that he has filed legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation. The bill, which is an addition to the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act, is co-sponsored by 48 members of the Missouri House.
Webber’s legislation, HB 477, would protect Missourians from being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation by employers, landlords and real estate professionals, financial institutions, and the state of Missouri, among other groups. The bill would add eliminating and preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation to the mission of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.
“Many people don’t realize that in Missouri someone can be fired from their job or be evicted from their apartment simply for being gay. They assume it’s already illegal, but regrettably, that isn’t the case,” Webber said. “Last year, we moved this legislation further than it has ever gone, but I won’t stop pushing this bill until we end the legalization of discrimination in our state.”
Webber has made this legislation a priority since being elected in 2008. Last year, he sponsored HB 1850, which is the same as this year’s version. For the first time ever, the bill passed in committee. But after making it through the Urban Affairs Committee, the legislation was never heard in the Rules Committee – which would have been the next step. In 2009, Webber’s first year in the House, he co-sponsored the legislation.